Book Review: Becoming a Digital Nomad: Your Step-by-Step Guide to the Digital Nomad Lifestyle

Posted by on Mar 21, 2018 in Book Reviews | 0 comments

Digital Nomad Lifestyle

(You will find affiliate links in this post. Should you decide to purchase, using either link, I will receive a small commission).

Just published, Becoming a Digital Nomad: Your Step-by-step guide to the digital nomad lifestyle is the resource you need to take you from your dream of becoming a digital nomad to living the digital nomad lifestyle. Author, Chris Backe, left America in 2008 to teach English in South Korea. In 2013 he and his wife, Laura, left Korea to embrace the digital nomad lifestyle full-time. They have never looked back, working as digital nomads in numerous countries on several continents. There is no doubt that this book can take the digital nomad wannabe from over here to over there.

The book is well organized, beginning with a detailed introduction. Learn what the term digital nomad means (it might not be quite what you think). If you’ve been thinking, “Is this the right time for me to become a digital nomad?” check out page 19. You’ll also be introduced to some digital nomads, and each shares valuable insights into their digital nomad journey. I quickly realized each journey is unique, and oh so empowering. After the introduction, Chris leads you through 7 steps.

Step 1: know yourself and what you want; involves getting to know yourself and some detailed planning. You’ll find yourself answering a series of questions covering everything from “what makes me happy” to “do I have a passport”. My favourite question is number 8. You can check it out on page 23.

From this useful self-evaluation, you’re taken to a detailed list of things you need to do now. These include getting a passport and any visa requirements. Links to numerous country’s passport and visa pages are provided.
Then it’s onto a second worksheet, “What’s important to you?” on page 27. I highly recommend you spend some serious time answering these questions. I wish I had had this list before embarking on my expat adventure in 2000. While I don’t regret my 17 years as an expat, I may have done a few things differently if I had pondered these questions before boarding that first airplane.

If you’re like me, you’ll get excited when you read the list of possible destinations on pages 28 – 31. This brings you to Worksheet #3, brainstorming 5 – 10 countries where you may want to consider living. A list of useful resources (with links) is provided to help you research the cities and countries you choose. Also, Chris provides a list of things to “look for”; political climate, weather, cost of living, Internet access/speed, etc. Worksheet #4 is your list of finalist destinations. Are you excited yet?

Step 2, Clarify your desires and acknowledge limitations, the reader is provided with 4 additional worksheets to help build a comprehensive blueprint for life as a digital nomad, based on individual likes/dislikes, personal passions and desires. From clarifying desires to finding your new home, you’ll find everything you need to move effortlessly through the decision-making process. Readers are provided with dozens of relevant links and accommodation options. Have you ever considered making your next home an RV? Turn to page 46 to find out more.

What to pack, where to store your stuff (both physical and online), budgeting (with a worksheet) are also covered in this step. If you think socializing will be a challenge in your new environment, page 54 lists numerous ideas to get you out of your apartment and making friends in your new-found community. On pages 56 – 61 there’s a useful discussion about traveling with others; friends/spouse/children.

This step concludes with Chris’s suggestion of a test run (a few weeks or months) before committing to becoming a full-time digital nomad (aptly named: the Nomadus Interruptus test). You may decide to jump in with both feet after the test or pull back for a bit (maybe forever). Whatever your decision, this test run can help you avoid disappointment down the road or be the catalyst to making your digital nomad dream a reality. Personally, I think the Nomadus Interruptus test is a brilliant idea.

Kindle format available from Amazon. Click on the image.

$9.99 US

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PDF available from Gumroad (click)

$9.99 US

Step 3: Making money as a nomad; I think this will be considered the most important section by many aspiring digital nomads. The section begins with an interesting notion, Geo-Arbitrage. If, like me, you have no idea what this means, turn to page 73. Then there’s flag theory, which is another interesting concept. I agree with Chris on this one in that it might not be prudent to fire your government; tread lightly here. A comprehensive list of jobs and strategies for earning a living are outlined in this step, including loads of valuable links. Keep in mind, as Chris points out, making a living as a digital nomad is not easy. You’ll need to work to find those income opportunities. Worksheet #10: What do you want to do to make money? (page 92) lets you explore money-making options and identify those that resonate with you. This step also provides basic tax info. (various countries), incorporating a business, bank accounts and online payments portals like Paypal. Page 108 gives a basic introduction to cryptocurrencies.

Step 4: get affairs in order; This means getting everything set-up to begin your new life as a digital nomad. Some people will be able to do this in a relatively short time, while others will need a few months or more. When I left Canada in 2000 it took me 6 months. I had to give notice at my job, rent my house, and sell lots of stuff. I also didn’t want to leave until I found an English teaching job in my country of choice. I was surprised at how much time the job hunt consumed. Who will be your anchor? (page 111) is another necessary consideration. Before I left I came to an agreement with one of my tenants to look after my property, and I changed my address to a P.O. box and had mail forwarded on a regular basis. Another important anchor was my Internet banking account. Don’t underestimate the importance of bank account access. As Chris points out, your anchors do not have to be human! This step discusses the importance of health/travel insurance and continued access to physician-prescribed drugs. Important papers should be easily accessible online. Dropbox is one option. As with all the other steps, you’ll find loads of useful links. This step ends with “Book Your Travel”.

Step 5: Gear up and slim down; getting you and your belongings from over here to over there. Types of bags, checked/carry-on luggage requirements, a detailed list of what to pack/what NOT to pack, are all covered in this step. Find out why Chris doesn’t recommend black luggage, page 127.

Step 6: The Big Move and settling in;  from 7 days before to the day of departure, what you need to do each day. Your final night could be a stay at home feast of all the food still left in your cupboards and refrigerator (hopefully not too much). Upon arrival in your new country don’t be surprised if culture shock hits you as soon as you deplane. This step includes a full three-day itinerary to get you familiar with your new city and country quickly.

Step 7: start enjoying your new life; things you should consider doing shortly after arrival. I love the recommendation to subscribe to a VPN. You’ll be able to download favourite TV shows anonymously and hopefully ease any of those homesick feelings! To help you successfully transition to your digital nomad lifestyle there are two worksheets; “Now that you’re settled in” AND “Stay on budget”. This final step also includes such information as a list of items you’ll find almost everywhere in the world (duct tape); advice on tracking finances, taking care of yourself, and a list of resources should things go wrong (page 146).

To conclude, Chris provides links to a Facebook group and a website which will serve to keep “Becoming a Digital Nomad” updated and current as things change and evolve for those living (or thinking of embarking on) the digital nomad lifestyle.

This guide is a well-written treasure trove of information, indispensable to anyone thinking of becoming a digital nomad or for existing nomads seeking information to enhance their digital nomad lifestyle. I would have loved to have had even a quarter of this information when I left Canada 17 years ago.

I’ve known Chris both offline and online for many years. He embraces his projects with passion and always delivers a quality product. Priced at under $10.00US this guide is a steal.

Order today with the links below: 

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PDF available from Gumroad (click)


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